Pitch Your Peers’ Unique Approach to Giving

above: Presenting a 2023 Pitch Your Peers grant to Open Arts Alliance

Bibi Clarke worked on the trading floor for thirty-three years, raised her three children and certainly wasn’t looking for another group to join. But then a friend told her about an organization with only three requirements: A $1,000 annual contribution with all monies going to local Greenwich charities, one meeting a year and four must-read emails. “I was in,” she says.

That organization is Pitch Your Peers (PYP). Its mission is twofold: To engage women in philanthropy and to collectively fund grants to charitable initiatives that serve Greenwich. What sets PYP apart from other organizations is that members pitch one another to steer money to their own passions.

The one required meeting a year is pitch night. Last year’s November meeting found Clarke pitching for Coffee for Good, an almost three-year-old nonprofit that provides paid job training to young adults with developmental disabilities, and then helps graduates find competitive integrative employment.

Clarke’s pitch was a personal one: Her 29-year-old son Danny is a Coffee for Good graduate and is now working on the protection team at The Bruce Museum. She says: “My presentation was a challenge for me—not something I am used to doing—but it was a labor of love. I was talking about an organization that trained my son and helped him find a job that he is really excited to do, a job he calls his career. These young adults really want to work. What makes them happy is having a career. Structure. Purpose. Someplace to go.”

When PYP members voted on pitch night for the organization that would receive the top award of $60,000, Clarke’s passion won out. Deb Rogan, Coffee for Good’s executive director, said the money will be used to hire a part-time job developer who will help prospective employers understand how Coffee for Good graduates can fit into their work force.

Nina Lindia, one of the founders of PYP, is thrilled, although not surprised, by the success her organization has experienced in just seven years. There are now three other chapters—Seattle, Chicago and the Hamptons—with a Palm Beach chapter starting this year. In 2016, Greenwich PYP awarded $35,500; this year the amount was $111,000.

“We are an extremely lean organization, with no overhead. And every year we zero out our bank account,” Lindia says. “All our money goes to grants.”

Have they evolved?

“Absolutely! In the beginning we tried a few social events, but our membership kept telling us that they don’t want to socialize. Members have enough stuff to do. They want the focus on the community,” Lindia says. “As we grew our membership, we also recognized the need for awarding more than one or two grants, so that more members would have a chance to pitch.”

“When you attend a pitch night you realize how many worthwhile organizations serve Greenwich; and as far as I’m concerned, my money can go to any of these nonprofits,” Clarke says. “We are just so fortunate to live in a town that is so philanthropic and that helps people. It is a gift.”

For more information about PYP, visit pitchyourpeers.org.

PYP Board: Stefanie Morin, Dara Johnson, Nina Lindia, Emily Goodman (missing Sarah Morris) – Photograph: Bob Capazzo

GRANTS THROUGH THE YEARS

Since its inception in 2016, PYP has awarded 25 grants totaling $575,500. In addition to the top grant of $60,000 awarded to Coffee for Good, the additional 2023 grants went to:

$30,000 to Reach Pep, which provides access to transformational educational experiences that empower underserved, high-achieving students to graduate from top colleges.

$13,000 to Open Arts Alliance, which makes art, theater, music and dance accessible to students ages six to 18 and seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

$8,000 to Food Rescue US, which delivers excess food, that would otherwise go to waste, to social service agencies catering to the food insecure.

PAST PITCH YOUR PEERS GRANTS INCLUDE:

2016
$30,00 Community Centers, Inc.
$5,500 Kids in Crisis

2017
$40,000 Kids in Crisis
$17,000 Mothers for Others

2018
$45,000 Breast Cancer Alliance
$17,000 Emily Catherine Fedorko Foundation
$2,000 Vanishing White Matter Families Foundation

2019
$50,000 Family Centers
$19,000 Swim Across America
$2,000 The First Tee Connecticut

2020
$45,000 YWCA Domestic Abuse Programs
$20,000 PACS1 Research Foundation
$6,000 Girls with Impact
$4,000 Special Education Legal Fund

2021
$50,000 (plus $25,000 match), OGRCC Child Care Program
$20,000 (plus $20,000 match), Greenwich United Way
$6,000 (plus $6,000 match), Greenwich Botanical Center

2022
$50,000 Kids in Crisis
$20,000 Greenwich Alliance for Education
$10,000 PACS1 Syndrome Research Foundation
$6,000 Partnership to End Human Trafficking

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